By Kateryna Denysova.
We often hear stories about captivating and fascinating diplomatic life, but how is it experienced by those who are behind the scenes? This month, we begin our new article column dedicated to sharing diverse life stories of diplomatic offspring.
Our first guests are Roes Lirizky Lufti (Kiky) and Roes Ebara Gikami Lufti (Regi), daughter and son of Army Attaché of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in The Netherlands. They were born and raised in Bandung (Indonesia). However, at the ages of 6 and 9, following their father’s assignment, Kiky and Regi moved to Australia. There, they had attended a private Islamic school of Canberra but, later, transferred to a public school.
Did you experience culture shock?
R: “Yes, definitely. What shocked me the most was the national development of the country and overall quality of life. Compared to our home country, Australia has great infrastructure and availability of public facilities.”
K: “I was younger than Regi, so my memories are very childish. However, I was amazed to find out Australians to be very welcoming and genuine; everyone was willing to help. Indeed, most surprisingly, I experienced actual culture shock when I returned to my home country, Indonesia.
It might sound paradoxical but adapting to life back in my country was harder than I imagined. The mentalities are different. This does not only refer to the overall surroundings and lifestyle but also language confusion. I often unintentionally code-switched English and Indonesian, which caused giggles of my fellow students. At that time, it seemed to be a struggle.”
How many languages can you speak?
Smiling, Kiky and Regi answered: “A lot! Indonesian is our mother tongue, and English can be considered as the first foreign language. In Australia, we learned some Arabic in the Islamic school and French in a public school. After returning to Jakarta, we had to take language German classes and Mandarin. Then, before moving to The Netherlands, we completed intermediate Dutch. This might be astonishing, but we don’t have any solid knowledge of languages, with the only exception being Indonesian and English, which we use on a regular basis.”
Two years ago, Kiky (18) moved with the parents to The Netherlands, whereas Regi (21) decided to stay and undertake his undergraduate studies in Indonesia. Kiky finished Indonesian school in The Hague and also enrolled in the same university as Regi. However, they chose different career paths.
Do you see your future career related to the diplomatic sphere?
K: “Not at all. I’m proud to be the first generation of doctors in my family. I always have been passionate about the field of medicine. Thus, when it was time to decide on the degree, without any doubt, it was dentistry. I haven’t regretted it.”
R: “My career interests diverge from Kiky’s. I’m specializing in economics, similar to my mom’s profession. In the future, I would like to improve the quality of life for Indonesians, and I believe that economy plays a fundamental part in it. Living in Australia and The Netherlands have just convinced me even more that Indonesia needs good economic policy implemented.”
During the pandemic, Kiky and Regi reunited with their parents in The Hague and have followed online classes since then. They acknowledge that being family members of a diplomat is tough with continuous life on the go, but it always brings adventures, the aspect they enjoy the most.